Thursday, July 19, 2018

Billy Drummond on "Little B's Poem"

A wonderfully musical solo from one of my favourite Jazz drummers, the great Billy Drummond, improvising on Bobby Hutcherson's composition "Little B's Poem" from a recent hit at Small's in New York City:

And while we're at it, here is Drummond offering a story on how he came to play with the great Sonny Rollins:

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Savion Glover & Marcus Gilmore

And...we're back.

And what better way to kick off our summer return than with some recent and truly dynamic interplay between two master rhythmatists: tap artist Savion Glover and Marcus Gilmore on drums.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Jazz Camp

I will be taking a brief break from blogging for a bit here (although please check my Instagram feed as I'll still be posting photos of random drums & Jazz drummers regularly over there...) In the meantime I'll be heading to my hometown of Regina, Saskatchewan shortly to teach at the annual Prairielands Summer Jazz Camp being held at the University of Regina for the next ten days.

I've been involved with this particular Jazz camp for 25 years now, first participating as a student when it started back in 1994 then 1995, then working as a camp assistant for a number of years, eventually taking over as the Jazz drum instructor in 2002 until now.

Jazz camps (and workshops in general) are an intense, fun and a great experience. I've taught at and participated in quite a few over the years. Those first two camps I attended in Regina back in the mid-90s while I was still in high school were formative experiences for me: having the opportunity to work with drummers Kevin Dempsey and Andre White and also offering introductions to many teachers who would later become important figures and mentors in my formal education in later years while studying in Montreal and Toronto (ie. Kevin Dean, Gordon Foote, Paul Read, Kirk MacDonald, Mike Downes, Kevin Turcotte, Brad Turner, Chase Sanborn, Kristin Korb, etc.)

While definitely not high school experiences, I've also attended the summer Jazz workshops at the Banff Centre for the Arts (1997) and the Lake Placid Jazz Workshop (1998). Between those two experiences I had the opportunity to work with amazing drummers and teachers such as Joe LaBarbera, Abraham Adzenyah and Billy Hart (!) as well as the chance to play with and learn from such icons as Kenny Wheeler, Don Thompson, Hugh Fraser, Hadley Caliman, Pat LaBarbera, Joe Lovano, Tim Hagans, Kenny Werner, Rufus Reid, John Abercrombie, Jim McNeely and Dick Oatts!

The Lake Placid, New York workshop is long gone but the Banff Centre still hosts an amazing workshop every summer and I highly recommend this to everyone I know. That summer in Banff really changed my life and it really is a special place. Some of the musical relationships that started during those summers with other "campers" continue to this day.

A couple of Jazz "camps" that are currently on my radar and hope to attend in the near future include Billy Martin's "Rhythm, Sound and Magic" Workshop https://www.rhythmsoundandmagic.com and Phil Dwyer's Jazz and Culinary Arts Academy https://mcmillanartscentre.com/school-for-creative-arts/the-phil-dwyer-academy-of-music-culinary-arts/phil-dwyer-jazz-and-culinary-arts-academy-at-the-mac-this-summer/

If you are a high school student looking for an intensive Jazz experience or an emerging university Jazz student (or older even...) I can't recommend enough to take part in an intensive workshop or "Jazz camp" experience at some point. They will undoubtedly put you in new musical surroundings and push your knowledge and abilities.

So wherever you might be this summer and whatever Jazz experience you choose to participate in, no matter what stage you are at in your musical career, happy camping!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Cobb Special

A post shared by Four on the Floor (@fouronthefloorblog) on

It's been a while since I've posted one of these...so here you go!

This is a pattern that I like to play and that I often get asked about. This pattern is inspired by some things I transcribed from Jimmy Cobb on the Joe Henderson album "Four". Keep in mind that this is NOT what Cobb played but instead an idea that was derived from something I thought I heard him play. I believe there is great value in transcribing solos and vocabulary from the Masters but I also believe that if you come up with something of your own while doing so, well that's okay too!

The pattern goes by quickly so I alternate between playing it slow, then fast.

The pattern itself is comprised of single strokes. It is a ten-note pattern, divided into four-note then six-note groupings (with an accent on the beginning of each).

In the video above I play the pattern four times, divided around the drums, with a little "bebop" ending to wrap it up. Hope you dig it.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Interview with Roy Haynes 1994

Another gem from the vaults of WGBH, here's an interview with Roy Haynes (aka the coolest and hippest man in the known universe!) circa. 1994 with Eric Jackson:


And, in case you needed reminding...

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Benny Green Trio

From a recent hit at Jazz @ Lincoln Center, here is pianist Benny Green and his fabulous trio featuring the Jazz Maniac himself, Kenny Washington on the drums:

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

David Freeman: "Overview Effect"

New York-based drummer and percussionist David Freeman recently released his new album "Overview Effect" and was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his most recent musical offering. I was first introduced to David through his playing with the Outer Bridge Ensemble and, as you will read below, his words and answers to my questions are every bit as captivating and insightful as is his drumming and compositions.

1) Tell us about your latest recording!

My new album, Overview Effect, is a demonstration of struggle in the search for balance between the personal and the collective, where the self-seeking creative is met by a call for civic engagement. The music on this album is a result of that process, one that embodies conviction, reflection and celebration.

The musicians featured on this record include Mustafa Bhagat (Arranged Marriage, The Biryani Boys) on Sitar, Steve Hudson (Outer Bridge Ensemble) on Keyboards, Jamie Zillitto (The Everymen) on Bass, myself on Drums/Percussion with special guests Ivan Barenboim (Sha’ar) on Bass Clarinet and Arun Ramamurthy (Brooklyn Raga Massive) on Violin.

The group’s aesthetic sensibilities, musical influences and technical abilities to cross between and defy genres that include Jazz, Rock and Indian Music are among the strengths that contribute to its success in forging new territory. 

2) How did you choose your repertoire and sidemen? 

I’ve spent the last decade or so of my career recording either as a member of a collective or as a sideman, which is great, because those experiences prepared me to take on the leadership role required for writing, arranging, fundraising and producing Overview Effect. Everyone I’ve ever worked with and continue to work with, I learn from. 

The band members and repertoire worked hand in hand with one another. While I had some of the material for this record sketched out, some of it was near finished while other hadn’t been written. For example, the opening track, Bamidbar, had already been performed by the Outer Bridge Ensemble in years past. Kindness up to the point of recording had been a sketch and Shrouds of Linen Shrouds of Fire was a composition written for the album. Tweaks were made accordingly throughout the rehearsal and recording process.

As far as the band goes, I knew I wanted to draw from my influences while forging a musical identity for myself. So I needed to find musicians I could trust with my vision, concept and direction on both an emotional and musical level. I often feel vulnerable when making art and needed to feel safe and supported when producing this record. I’m a human being. I’m grateful that the musicians on this album are also some of my closest friends.

3) What inspired you to pursue the vibe and instrumentation that you did?

Nothing on this record is forced. And by that I mean the music takes form as it would naturally. Sure you might look at the album and ask how it all might work. Listen to the record and it immediately becomes clear what’s happening. And that’s really the most I can hope for.

South African pianist/composer Abdullah Ibrahim talks about how musicians, in searching for the music, realize it’s been there all along. We just have to uncover it. And in doing so, discover our inner selves. I feel that’s true for me in the making of this album. I discovered a lot about myself I knew was already there but wasn’t fully embracing. The music that’s there is an energy shared by all of us. 

4) Was there a particular message you were trying to convey to the listener?

This is certainly music with a message; messages of protest, truth, power, and celebration. The music speaks to our common humanity and the hope that we’ll maintain a conviction to do right by our neighbors and our natural environment.

5) Who are your influences with regards to this style of writing and playing?

Composing for me is contrapuntal in nature in that I tend to hear the rhythms and melodies in my mind’s ear. I don’t really hear and write by way of chord changes. I write music more like Bach would. I also take notes from John Zorn’s compositional approach.

I almost always sing them onto a recording device as soon as I can. Anywhere. Anytime. When I’m riding the subway or out on the street walking the dog. Then I head to the piano and find the music on the keyboard and write it out the rhythms and melodies on staff paper. Once it all down and arranged, I usually get help from Steve Hudson to clean up the mistakes I've made here and there. We all need help. We all make mistakes. Anyone who tells you they’ve done it all by themselves is full of shit.

6) What are you practicing/studying/listening to/researching these days?

I'm often listening and practicing music for a gig. But in addition to that, I try to stay focused on the fundamentals. With limited time, I’ll sit for 45 minutes session on a pad shedding rudiments before sitting at the drums. I usually start a session on the drum set soloing and improvising in search of new phrasing and textures. Then I’ll pick up a book and work on a lesson, or a rhythm or exercise. Russ Moy, my first drum teacher encouraged me to always pick up new books and drum videos. It's become habit. I have hundreds of drum instructional books. I’m a student for life. Thanks Russ.

7) What other current and future projects do you have on the go at the moment?

My career as a teaching artist has gained a bit of momentum in recent months as I pivot my focus towards advocacy and leadership. I just completed the Central New York Teaching Artist Training in Auburn, New York. Next month, in July, I’ll be attending the Lincoln Center Summer Forum Teaching Artist Training in New York City followed by a trip to Detroit to participate the Asylum Arts Artist Retreat.

On the music front, I just finished a run of album release shows here in Brooklyn including a taping of BRIC Arts B-Side Series. I'll be doing some playing over the summer with guitarist Oren Neiman as well. More album release shows in the works for the upcoming fall.

8) How do the drums, percussion and overall approach to rhythm factor into your compositions and concept?

My concept is feel based. Even though you find odd time signatures, it grooves. No gratuity or pretense. I try to make every effort of being honest with myself when it comes to the development of a song or concept. If it’s not working or feels forced, I try not to be too precious about it. I table it because I know the idea will manifest again at the right time in the right way. And like I said before, the melodies and rhythms are born through song first, from the heart. So there is a songlike quality to the album overall.

9) What drummers & percussionists do you consider as influences?

I grew up listening to classic rock like Neil Young, Rush, Santana, The Allman Brothers and The Grateful Dead. Also deep in my DNA, western classical music and opera, which was always playing at my grandfather’s house across the street. Also look to Mahavishnu Orchestra, Medeski Martin and Wood, John Zorn’s Masada, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Fela Kuti, Ravi Shankar and Steve Reich for inspiration as well.

10) What advice do you have for younger, aspiring jazz musicians and drummers/percussionists?

We all have individual strengths and weaknesses. What may come easy for some comes with struggle for others. Work to improve your practice and help others improve theirs. Always ask for help if you need it and celebrate the success of others. Our successes and our failures are a reflection of the care and neglect in all our relationships. It’s never too late to do a kindness. 

Don’t Make Excuses, Make Art!

Check out David's new album "Overview Effect" on Bandcamp: https://davidfreeman2.bandcamp.com/releases and check out David's full length performance on the BRIC Arts B Side: www.bricartsmedia.org/events-performances/b-side-david-freeman-hosted-david-ellenbogen

Monday, June 18, 2018

Philly's "Tympany Cross"

Check out this original manuscript from Philly Joe Jones circa. 1968 (while living in London, England). These are a series of crossover manoeuvres around the drums that he calls "The Tympany Cross" (undoubtedly inspired by some of his orchestral percussion counterparts):

You might have to decipher his method of documentation and notation, but there is some cool stuff here for sure. I'll have to check, but I wonder if these might also be written down in Vinnie Ruggiero's book as well.

And special thanks to the person over on the Facebook who first shared this rare piece of Jazz drumming history!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Three's Company (NOLA Drum Edition)

So apparently this is how three Jazz drummers share the drum throne during a jam session in NOLA:

You can really sense the mutual admiration and respect each drummer has for each other (dig the other two drummers always smiling and dancing behind the drums while waiting their turn...) and this folks, is what it is all about.

Monday, June 11, 2018

A Drummer's Guide to the JAZZYYC Calgary Summer Jazz Festival

Calgary's annual Summer Jazz Festival is back this week, happening across various venues around town June 14 - 17.

Here's my very biased and drummer-centric picks of several not-to-be-missed shows and the great drummers that will performing this week.

1) Undoubtedly my first choice would be to catch New York tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander with legendary pianist Harold Mabern at the National Music Centre on Friday, June 15th 8pm featuring Master swinger Joe Farnsworth on the drums.

Joe is a personal favourite of mine and I've long admired his hard swinging beat & style. If you are only going to see one show this week, this is the one to catch!

2) Happening that same evening, starting an hour earlier at 7pm, and appearing down the street on 9th Avenue SE at the Ironwood Stage & Grill will be Cuban-born, Toronto-based pianist Hilario Duran along with Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez on the drums.

Hernandez is a master drummer/percussionist (ie. a BEAST!) who's coordination and sophisticated blending of Afro-Cuban rhythms around the drum set is something to behold.

3) Also appearing at the Ironwood and opening the festival the evening before on Thursday, June 14th at 7pm is Toronto alto saxophonist Allison Au and her quartet, fresh off of a Juno win and recognition as the most outstanding group at the 2017 Montreal International Jazz Festival. Appearing with Au's group is the wonderful Fabio Ragnelli on the drums.

4) If you are out and about in Inglewood on Sunday afternoon for the JazzYYC Jazz Walk on 9th Avenue SE, check out trombonist Carsten Rubeling's groovy new project VOLK featuring drummer Colin Adhikary. Colin recently completed his degree at Humber College in Toronto and has been back in Calgary for a year now and is really playing great. VOLK will be appearing at the Cold Garden Beverage Company in Inglewood on the afternoon of Sunday, June 17 from 3-5pm.

5) While not "officially" part of the festival, but definitely most worthy of any serious Calgary Jazz fan's attention, is the trio of saxophonist Mark DeJong, bassist Steve Shepard and Jeff Sulima on drums at Betty Lou's in the basement of Devinish Building, just off of 17th Avenue and 8th Street SW. These guys have been holding court at this hip cocktail bar every week for a year now and it's a great place to relax, enjoy a nice beverage and dig some great music in a hip room. Check them out every Thursday night starting at 7pm.

6) And last, but certainly not least, make sure to check out Montreal pianist John Roney and his trio (featuring yours truly Jon McCaslin on the drums!) hosting the nightly jam session at the Ironwood Bar & Grill (Thursday/Friday nights starting @ 10pm and Saturday night starting @ 12am). Come on by and say hello, sit in for a few tunes and tell them that Four on the Floor sent you!

For more information, a complete listing and ticket info, visit the JazzYYC website: www.jazzyyc.com

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Interview with Art Taylor 1994

Another great audio interview from the vaults of WGBH, this time with the great Art Taylor:


You all know the drill:

When when the Masters speak....WE LISTEN.

And in case you need some reminding, here's some killer footage of A.T. with Johnny Griffin:

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Alan Dawson Interview 1994

A nice interview with Alan Dawson from 1994 recently surfaced, so here it is:


Dawson is very articulate and tells some great stories. I was particular interested by his comments on the relationship between Jazz drumming and tap dancing at about the 24 minute mark. Check it out.

As per usual, when the Masters speak...we listen!

Here's some of my favourite clips of Dawson in action:

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Welcome back y'all and I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Here's what's cooking over here around the Four of the Floor offices these days and presented to you in this edition of the Monday Morning Paradiddle:

- The ever-wise Victor Lewis interviewed by All About Jazz:


- Ignacio Berroa shares his thoughts over at The Trap Set:


- WBGO gives the drummers some in this column, featuring new releases brought to us by several current drummers:


- An interview with Ralph Peterson Jr. in Modern Drummer magazine:


- Toronto drummer Nick Fraser recently featured in Downbeat magazine:


- Thanks to Adam Nussbaum who sent along these two links to a 1972 concert in Paris featuring Elvin Jones and his quartet!



- Bill Stewart gets busy...

- Billy Hart sets up a tune with his quartet:

- Adam Nussbaum and Seamus Blake get into it with Italian organist Alberto Gurrisi:

- Herlin Riley puts it all out on the line (the second line?) with this one...

- New York drummer Colin Stranahan offers his creative experience on The Creative Mindset Podcast:

- Willie Jones III with some musical advice from a recent masterclass:

- Mark Nelson, a GREAT drummer from Montreal, demonstrates some nice Gretsch drums, brought to us by the nice people over at Timpano Percussion:

- Tenor Saxophonist Ben Wendel with drummer Justin Brown from Wendel's new "Standards with Friends" series:

- Special thanks to John Riley who forwarded along this AMAZING clip of Ruben Bellavia's transcription performance of Tony Williams' drum solo on "Walkin'":

- What am I listening to these days?

Joe Henderson "Double Rainbow: The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim" - Jack DeJohnette, Paulo Braga (drums)

Al Henderson "Dinosaur Dig" - Barry Romberg (drums)

Kenny Barron Quintet "Concentric Circles" - Johnathan Blake (drums)

Bill Charlap Trio "I'm Old Fashioned"

Bud Powell "Off Minor" - Kenny Clarke (drums)

Don Thompson Quartet "CBC 1977" - Claude Ranger (drums)

- And today's Final Word goes to the late John Birks Gillespie:

"Take care of the Music, and the Music will take care of you!" - Dizzy Gillespie

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Mr. Higgins

I've posted this one before but because it is so good, I am sharing it again because....well, just because!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Rudy Royston

I've really been enjoying Rudy Royston's 2016 trio release "The Rise of Orion" lately. Royston is a dynamic drummer, engaging composer and I really dig his energy and creative orchestrations around the drum set.

Here's a peek of Royston's trio featuring saxophonist Jon Irabagon:

Dig this feature from Modern Drummer magazine from a few years ago:


Also, check out this interview with Rudy from Dave Douglas' Greenleaf Music:


Thursday, May 17, 2018

John Riley Solo

A very brief but fun and action packed drum solo from John Riley today (recently filmed somewhere in Europe, I believe?) Dig the cool multi-coloured light show happening behind him. Jazz drumming could use more of that, I think...

Anyways, as always, Riley's drumming is super musical and I've always really admired his loose, flowing technique while moving around the drums and the great sound he gets from the instrument.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Marcus Gilmore

Thanks to a lesson with John Riley last month, I've been inclined, upon his suggestion, to check out what Marcus Gilmore is up to lately. He's definitely been making waves (sound & otherwise) these days. Here's a wealth of links and clips to check out of this very unique, modern Jazz drummer.

- A feature from NPR:


- Interview with Jazz Speaks:


- An interview with Nick Ruffini over at the Drummer's Resource Podcast:


- A podcast from Chick Corea's website (somebody who knows a thing or two about drummers!):


And finally, here's a bunch of cool clips featuring this dynamic and creative musician:

Monday, May 7, 2018


A few cool clips today of a favourite (but not very well known) drummer of mine, the great Master drummer Marvin Bugalu Smith. Check him out:

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Conor's Corner: Syncopation in Paradiddles

Another episode of Conor's Corner today, brought to us by the venerable Irish Jazz drummer Conor Guilfoyle.

Today, Conor offers us a practical way to develop interesting paradiddle combinations while using Ted Reed's classic Syncopation text. I've been messing around with this myself all week on my drum pad and have found this to be a very good method in terms of developing fluency with paradiddles, all in the context of melodic phrasing.

Check the out the link to his website here: https://www.conorguilfoyle.com/files/syncopation-in-paradiddles.pdf or check out the accompanying .pdfs below for the written explanation.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Jochen Rueckert's Instructional Videos

German-born, New York based Jazz drummer Jochen Rueckert has recently produced and released a series of wonderful Jazz drumming instructional videos, all drawn from his extensive personal experience. These are really well done and I highly recommend these to anyone seeking to up their game as a Jazz drummer. Check out the new link and banner on my blog, located on the right hand side of the page. You can also visit his site here: https://www.jochenrueckert.net/#instructional-videos

Jochen has been active on the New York Jazz scene for over 20 years and has been played with a who's who of contemporary Jazz artists. Check out this clip of him with his quartet featuring Mark Turner:

And here's a little drum solo statement:

Jochen was also kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his latest instructional project:

-Tell us all about your new series of instructional videos. What is it all about?

I started releasing short instructional videos through my website late last year. So far I've released 6 episodes, each episode is around 20 minutes long and focuses on one topic. I've got one episode only focusing on brushes, for example. So, say you're not interested in my advice on brushes then you can skip that one. I tried to pack as much useful information into each episode as possible

-Why did you decide to pursue this project?

Well, I have been teaching increasingly over the last few years, probably because I am more visible now as a band leader. Frankly, I got tired of telling people the same shit over and over in private lessons . There seem to be so many common problems amongst my students, I thought It would be good to streamline the whole process into a video series and save a lot of people the arduous trip on the C train to my house. I also feel like a lot of the other jazz drum masterclass videos out there are all over the place, many are not very focused, with too much playing or showing off by the artist, and some, I feel, are way too advanced, some miss the point entirely or pass along very little useful advice. So I was hoping to improve those aspects with starting my own series. I am also continuously broke, as required by jazz-law, so i would be lying if I said making a little extra bread wasn't an incentive.

-What were the logistics involved in completing such a project?

Writing the material was easy - I really had to stop myself actually, so many things that come up in lessons that I wanted to get on tape. Much harder was finding the right format and dividing the material into episodes that make sense, since a lot of things are connected. Presenting that stuff on camera without an actual script or cue cards or a telepromter was a real bitch, though. You can see me being veeeeeery uncomfortable in the first episode and slowly getting adjusted throughout the series. Mostly you're watching exhaustion taking over my body once you get to episode 5. Originally, I was considering doing it for some of the platforms already out there: mymusicmasterclass, Jazz Heaven, and the soon to be launched elite music mentor- they're all cool but somehow it didn't quite work out timing-wise. Turns out my neighbour is a pro cameraman so we just went for it and we filmed all the stuff in my practice room here in my apartment in Harlem over two days. My buddy Matt Marantz did the drum recording with his mobile setup and it was pretty intense actually, with all the lights, cameras and mics in that small room. And the editing also really sucks, apart from it taking ages, it's also quite painful to watch oneself on screen over and over.

-What can you tell us about your background as a musician?

Just a quick overview- I am a jazz drummer mostly, I have been doing a lot of sideman work in a plethora of bands - notably the Kurt Rosenwinkel quartet, Melissa Aldana trio. Recently I play a lot with my own quartet, with Mark Turner and either Lage Lund or Mike Moreno and whatever bass monkey is available. I play a lot of "modern jazz" ( almost a curse word these days) and I love playing (and also writing) more traditional stuff, with a little modern twist perhaps. I am a little old fashioned that way in that I love jazz from the 60s. Apart from that, I make a lot of pretty far out electronic music under the moniker "Wolff Parkinson White" and here it's more about metric modulation from 17/16 to 25/8 every 2 bars and microtonal tone rows at 208.5 bpm.

-How did your musical background and experience shape and inform your ideas about developing this series of videos?

Well, as I mentioned, I am just a tad more old fashioned than some people think. I believe there should be a strong understanding of the history of jazz and that your playing should be rooted in that tradition. I get a lot of students that are clueless about that sort of stuff and can't swing their way out of a paper bag. I mean, they want to, but they can't. Then they just go on and study some more advanced stuff like weird odd meter things or metric modulation whatever. I am trying to bring some perspective to that: "first things first". You can't really do all that fancy stuff that people often seek me out for, before you have a solid base to build it on .

-What have been some of the highlights and challenges while working on this project?

As I mentioned before, editing is really frustrating and an absolute nightmare was getting subtitles made. I was hoping for some customers in Japan and China so I spent a lot of time explaining everything to various translators, then in the end there was basically no interest from Asia whatsoever, which was a bummer, so I stopped making asian subtitles. On the positive side, it was nice to not only get some positive feedback from drummer colleagues, but also from some people that play other instruments too.

-What does the future have in store for you and your activities? 

Well, I am about to hit the road for 3 weeks with my quartet, I am doing a little bit of big band work for the NDR big band, which is unusual for me, I am working on some new music for my jazz quartet and for a project with a larger, extended horn section band as well as slowly finishing up the next Wolff Parkinson White record I have been slaving away at for several years. This one will have different guest singers, so that'll be fun.

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Well, looks like Spring is finally here. Personally I've had enough of this never ending Winter and it seems like it dragged on forever. Now I know how House Stark felt in Game of Thrones, all those years defending the Wall...Anyways, now that the snow is gone and the sun is finally shining and trees blooming, here is what we have on the go for this early Spring edition of the Monday Morning Paradiddle:

- Thanks to Adam Nussbaum who forwarded this nice piece on Albert "Tootie" Heath:


- An interview with Maestro Terry Clarke:


- Thanks to Four on the Floor correspondent Tim Mah for sending along this great segment on Herlin Riley and the legacy of the Lastie family from New Orleans, featured on WWNO:


- Chicago's Chad Taylor featured over at All About Jazz.com:


- Here's two wonderful podcasts that I have been following regularly of late,  to get me through this unnecessarily long Winter weather:

"Jazz Stories" from Jazz @ Lincoln Centre:


"You'll Hear it" from Peter Martin's Open Studio Network:


- A wild and inventive improvised solo from Han Bennink:

- "Birdman Live" from Antonio Sanchez:

- A cool drum solo from Idris Muhammad, from a trio performance with Joe Lovano:

- Jeff Ballard plays a mallet-inspired drum solo in a museum:

- I posted this one before but it's really amazing and deserves to be posted again. Here's phenom Tyshawn Sorey with Master drummer Pedrito Martinez:

- Portland's Alan Jones in a little saxophone trio action on "All the Thing You Are":

- Marvin Bugalu Smith is a force. Check him out!

Truth be told, "BETTER THAN HOLLYWOOD” series 94 by Marvin Bugalu Smith b from Marvin Bugalu Smith on Vimeo.

- What am I listening to these days?

Solon McDade "Murals" - Rich Irwin (drums)

Terri Lyne Carrington "Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue" - Terri Lyne Carrington (drums)

The Art Ensemble of Chicago "ECM :rarum" - Famoudou Don Moye (Sun Percussion)

Brian Lynch & Conrad Herwig "Que Viva Coltrane" - Robby Ameen (drums), Richie Flores (congas)

Mark Turner "Lathe of Heaven" - Marcus Gilmore (drums)

Dave Douglas & Joe Lovano: Sound Prints "Scandal" - Joey Baron (drums)

Jackie McLean & Tina Brooks "Street Singer" - Art Taylor (drums)

- And today's Final Word goes to Joseph Campbell:

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us. Follow your bliss." - Joseph Campbell

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Butch Miles

A couple of short lessons today from the legendary Butch Miles: a cool brush pattern and some tips on how to play the hi-hat:

Monday, April 16, 2018

JoJo Mayer: Practice Wisdom

Thanks to Nick Ruffini from the Drummer's Resource Podcast Instagram page (check out his webpage here: www.drummersresource.com) here is JoJo Mayer's philosophy for a more effective practice routine:

"JoJo Mayer's Practice Rules"

Rule #1 - Practice what you CAN'T do.

Rule #2 - Be aware of WHAT you're practicing for. Be aware of WHY you believe you need to accomplish that. Start with the end in mind.

Rule #3 - Don't practice for hours...practice for RESULTS. Practice as short as necessary, not as long as possible.

Rule #4 - Observe yourself carefully. Practice with the same attitude you'd like to see yourself perform.

Rule #5 - If you get stuck too long with one thing...leave it, relax...try a different viewpoint.

Rule #6 - Practice is like raising children or growing plants: you can't force it to grow...all you do is CARE. Challenge yourself but be patient, have trust and have fun.

Rule #7 - Practicing is not a means to an end. If you're not sure why you're practicing, it's sometimes better to stop and do something else. Perhaps stop practicing for a while, and then pick it up again once you are certain WHY you want or need to.

Rule #8 - Don't focus on practicing the drums...focus on playing music!


And furthermore, here is a fascinating Tedx Talk given by JoJo Mayer himself to check out:

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Han Bennink: The Havana Dance Band

Thanks to Ireland's Noel Martin Jr. who posted a great clip of Han Bennink over on FB the other day that eventually led me to this gem, "The Havana Dance Band", recorded in 1983 as part of an art gallery installation.

As per usual, this is some exceptional playing from Bennink that demonstrates how many sounds and how much interest can be sustained with just a minimal drum set-up at one's disposal. We can all take a lesson from this!

And just in case you're not convinced and dismiss Han Bennink as some kind of a nut (you should get your head checked on that point alone!) then check out this footage of him playing with Wes Montgomery (I think he sounds like Kenny Clarke!):

Monday, April 9, 2018

Jabali Billy Hart: "Still Out of Control"

I was inspired by this brief faculty profile of Master drummer Jabali Billy Hart via the Oberlin Conservatory (check out his last comment Lol...and I'm also inclined to transcribe that cool paradiddle/cross-over pattern that he plays at 1:28):

And from a recent week-long trio engagement at the Village Vanguard with pianist Fred Hersch, here's Hart in action on Wayne Shorter's "Black Nile" and Thelonious Monk's "Bemsha Swing" (special thanks to Tim Mah for passing these along...):

Finally, from the Pace Report, here's an interview with this Master drummer who is always eager to share his wisdom:

As per usual, when the Masters speak...we must listen.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Johnny Griffin & Art Taylor: France 1970

I've posted parts of this one before but those clips are long gone on the YouTube....so here's some killing footage Johnny Griffin and Art Taylor GOING FOR IT from a 1970 French TV broadcast:

Friday, March 30, 2018

Steve Lacy: Lift the Bandstand

I had the opportunity to hear Steve Lacy play and speak in Montreal back in 2004, not that long before he passed away. Since then I've been quite inspired by his writings on music/art and found them to be quite inspiring in addition to his constantly forward thinking music.

Here is the Steve Lacy documentary "Lift the Bandstand" to enjoy this Easter long weekend:

This list has been making the rounds of the internet for quite some time now, but it's worth reading again. Here is a list of "advice" and music/life lessons that Lacy compiled during his time with Thelonious Monk:

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Purdie Plays

I've been on a bit of a Bernard Purdie kick for the last while and I think these next two clips are amazing resources if you are interested in getting a clear sonic view of his legendary style:

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Taps & Traps

Those who know me will recognize my appreciation for the art form of tap dancing and of its important relationship to the practice of Jazz drumming. Playing with tap dancers is one of my favourite things to do! I'm always amazed at their seamless sense of rhythmic phrasing, syncopation and movement.

My first introduction to tap was from listening to the seminal Jo Jones album "The Drums" in which Papa Jo imitates the sounds of his favourite tap dancers. Recently I've been digging what little I've seen of Savion Glover's collaborations with Marcus Gilmore and Jack DeJohnette.

I recently worked with a number of world class tap dancers (including Heather Cornell and Travis Knights) as part of the annual Rhythm, Body and Soul Festival produced by Tasha Lawson and the Tri-Tone Rhythm Society, in my hometown of Calgary, AB.

In corresponding with Heather Cornell afterwards, she praised the work of percussionist Jesse Stewart with whom she presented a tap and drums duo performance, as part of the 2018 Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival (see Tim Mah's earlier guest blog post for a full report). This is an ongoing project so look for these two master artists on a stage near you.

And fortunately for us, here's a couple clips of this recent collaboration between tap master Cornell and percussionist Stewart:

Taps and Traps: Heather Cornell and Jesse Stewart • Handpan Sand Dance from Hazi on Vimeo.

Taps and Traps: Heather Cornell and Jesse Stewart • Music for wooden box and wooden mocks from Hazi on Vimeo.

Taps and Traps: Heather Cornell and Jesse Stewart • Water wood from Hazi on Vimeo.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Not sure about you or wherever you are, but around here Winter has been dragging its heels for some time now. Enough of Winter. Please bring on Spring.

Anyways, enough with the depressing weather reports and here's what's been making the rounds over here in the Four on the Floor news room lately. Upwards and Onwards!

- Lewis Porter on Gene Krupa's legacy via WBGO:


- Thanks to Adam Nussbaum who passed along this gem of a resource, Gene Perla's personal loft recordings which feature a who's who of important Jazz artists he's collaborated with:


- Portland's Alan Jones interviewed via Coffeehouse Conversations:


- Art Blakey offers some sage advice to Ben Sidran courtesy of Jazz at Lincoln Centre:

- Brett Primack's tribute to Roy Haynes, the hippest man in the known universe, who recently turned 93 years young last week:

- John Riley interviewed at Drummer Nation:

- A short solo statement from Jack DeJohnette from an outdoor performance at Woodstock taken a few years ago:

- What's better than a band with a swinging drummer? A band with TWO swinging drummers! Here's pianist Emmet Cohen's trio featuring Evan Sherman and Joe Saylor:

- Just a beautiful ballad featuring New York's Tyler Blanton on vibes with some tasteful brushwork from Johnathan Blake from a recent hit at New York's Mezzrow Jazz club:

- I've really been digging this trio out of Chicago lately: bassist Clark Sommer's Ba(SH) Trio featuring Geof Bradfield on tenor saxophone and powerhouse Dana Hall on drums:

- Montreal's Jazz drumming icon Dave Laing explores Herbie Hancock's piano solo on "Eye of the Hurricane", orchestrating it around the drums:

- One more from Portland's Alan Jones, one of my favourite drummers these days:

- What am I listening to these days?

Jodi Proznick "Sun Songs" - Jesse Cahill (drums)

Adam Nussbaum "The Leadbelly Project" - Adam Nussbaum (drums)

Various "Drums of Death: Field Recordings in Ghana" - Ashanti/Ewe Tribes of Ghana (drums/percussion)

David Braid Sextet "Zhen: David Braid Sextet Live, Vol. 2" - Terry Clarke (drums)

Bud Powell Trio "A Portrait of Thelonious" - Kenny Clarke (drums)

- And today's Last Word goes to Adam Nussbaum (special thanks to Roger Johansen who posted this one on FB):

"The drum thing is different than guitar players or trumpet players. There’s a more competitive thing going on there with those instruments. But with drummers, it’s more of a brotherhood. And at the end of the day, we know that the quickest way to change the sound of the band is to change the drummer. We can make a band, we can break a band. And there’s a certain camaraderie. We all get together and it’s a good feeling, it’s a beautiful scene, man. You know, we’re all just trying to get that groove together...make the band feel good, make everybody happy. That’s why we’re going to work. It ain’t about us sounding good, it’s about helping the band sound good."

- Adam Nussbaum

Thursday, March 15, 2018

New Orleans Drumming

This rare resource recently popped up on the Tube, featuring Baby Dodds and a host of other drummers from the Crescent City I've never even heard of...(although apparently this obscure footage has been available on VHS for some time?)

Anyways, check this out and then get to work on your press rolls!

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Second Triplet

About five years ago I had the opportunity to work with saxophonist Ralph Bowen and play a concert of his music arranged for big band. It was a wonderful experience and I also took advantage of the opportunity to take a lesson with him during his time in Calgary. Ralph is a serious musician with huge ears and he KNOWS drummers and drumming when he hears them so I was very interested in his perspective on my own playing. We spent the better part of an afternoon playing saxophone and drum duets.

One idea that he suggested that I explore more closely was a phrasing concept, the idea of emphasizing more of the 2nd triplet of each beat in my comping patterns, when playing a slow to medium tempo swing groove.

Something like this:

Of course, to my ears anyways, this immediately suggests the drumming of Elvin Jones who was famous for his triplet-laced comping style and his own unique emphasis of the 2nd triplet within his own timekeeping phrases.

So I came up with a few exercises to further develop this concept:

1) Mess around with the orchestration of every 2nd triplet of each beat of the bar, playing it on the snare drum, tom tom, floor tom, bass drum and hi-hat, mixing it up in different combinations, all while keeping Time on the ride cymbal. Once you are comfortable with this and can get a nice flow happening, start to leave the occasional note out. Think compositionally and get comfortable with the placement and feeling of that 2nd "inner" triplet.

Here's a couple more fun exercises to further explore this concept:

2) Play the Jazz ride cymbal rhythm (right hand) with the 2nd triplet as a constant rhythmic ostinato on the snare drum (left hand).

Then using Stick Control, add a constant eighth-note shuffle between your feet, orchestrating it as follows:

R= bass drum

L= hi-hat

You'll find that you will create a constant stream of triplets underneath your ride cymbal but the feet will never line up with the 2nd triplet on the snare drum. Clever eh?

3) Same idea as above except use Page 37 etc. from Syncopation and orchestrate the rhythms between your feet while your right hand plays the Jazz ride cymbal beat and your left hand plays the 2nd triplet of each beat as an ostinato on the snare drum.

a) bass drum = long notes

    hi-hat = short notes

b) Reverse*

c) bass drum = Any rhythm that lines up on beats 1 and 3 (including the +'s)

    hi-hat = Any rhythm that lines up beats 2 and 4 (including the +'s)

d) Reverse*

Take it slow and remember: Keep it Swinging!

*Perhaps try playing the hi-hat as an open "splash" sound when interpreting it as a "long" rhythm...

Monday, March 5, 2018

Conor's Corner: Advanced Triplet Subdivision Rhythm Exercise

Today marks the first of what will hopefully be a regular, on-going series of guest blog posts from my friend and great Irish Jazz drummer Conor Guilfoyle. He's been posting lessons on YouTube.com for quite some time now and I've always admired not only his wonderful information but also his excellent delivery and concise explanations as well.

Today Conor offers us an excellent explanation on how to use odd-grouping subdivisions over a triplet subdivision:

And here's the written companion to this piece:

To learn more about Conor's activities check out his website www.conorguilfoyle.com (there are also many more great lessons to check out here) and this interview from irishdrummers.com:


Thanks again Conor and see you next time!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Kris Davis & Marcus Gilmore

Further to Monday's post, here's more footage from Kris Davis' album "Duopoly", this time featuring pianist Kris Davis with drummer Marcus Gilmore:

The world needs more music like this!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Kris Davis & Billy Drummond

One of my favourite recent albums of the past couple of years is pianist Kris Davis' "Duopoly". This album features improvised duets between Davis and various improvisors. One such pairing finds pianist Kris Davis with drummer Billy Drummond on two tracks (the other piano/drums duets on the album features Marcus Gilmore). One selection features improvisations on the theme to "Eronel" and the other, a completely improvised duet statement.

Here's a Modern Drummer article about this unique collaboration:


And, fortunately for us, here is video footage of both tracks from the album:

I've always been a HUGE fan of Drummond's drumming and have known Kris since she was barely out of high school (!) During the summer of 1997 we played together in a piano trio at the Banff Centre for the Arts with bassist Solon McDade, participating in the summer Jazz workshop. Definitely a highlight for me and I hope to play with her again in the future. I look forward to hearing more creative projects and collaborations from Davis in the years to come.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Tim Mah's Ottawa Winter Jazz Fest Review

Four on the Floor correspondent Tim Mah recently attended the 2018 edition of the Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival and here's his full report and impressions of this successful Canadian Jazz festival:

Recap of the 2018 Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival - Tim Mah 


When: February 8 to 10, 2018

Where: downtown Ottawa at La Nouvelle Scene (12 concerts on two different stages, and two late night jams) and the Mercury Lounge (one concert).

Seating: all performances were general admission.

Run time: most performances had an hour run time, with some running longer. The concerts were scheduled with minimal overlap.

Thursday, February 8


Personnel: Pierre-Yves Martel (electric bass, synthesizer), Isaiah Ceccarelli (drums), Guido Del Fabbro (violin synthesizer), Bernard Falaise (electric guitar), Philippe Lauzier (bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, melodica), Martin Tetrault (turntable)

The festival opened with Montreal chamber jazz group, Quartetski, performing music from their 2016 album called “Mikrokosmos: Quartetski Does Bartók”, featuring the band’s adaptation of progressive exercises and études by the great Béla Bartók.

Dock In Absolute

Personnel: Jean-Philippe Koch (piano), David Kintziger (bass), Michel Mootz (drums)

Dock In Absolute, a jazz trio from Luxembourg, performed music from their 2017 self-titled album. The trio has toured across Europe and Asia. Ottawa was their only Canadian stop on their current tour.

This is a video of “Submission” from the self-titled album of Dock In Absolute:

Barbra Lica

Personnel: Barbra Lica (voice), Marc Rogers (bass), Will Fisher (drums), Tom Fleming (guitar), Joel Visentin (piano, keys, accordion)

Performing songs from her album “I’m Still Learning” and new songs, Barbra Lica and her band sounded cohesive and polished. Barbra Lica quickly builds a rapport with her audience through her charm, wit and stories.

The EPK for the 2017 album “I’m Still Learning”:

Paolo Angeli

Personnel: Paolo Angeli (guitar, voice)

Touring North America in support of his 2017 album “Talea,” Paolo Angeli mesmerized the audience with his performance, featuring his customized Sardinian guitar. Here’s a video of his National Public Radio Tiny Desk Concert:

Friday, Feburary 9

Hilario Duran & the Ottawa Latin Jazz Big Band

Hilario Duran (piano), supported by the Ottawa Latin Jazz Big Band, delighted the audience, performing music from his repertoire, including “Parque 527” from his 2018 Juno award nominated album “Contumbao” and jazz standards (“Manteca”, “A Night in Tunisia”).

The EPK for Hilario Duran’s album “Contumbao”, released in 2017:

Emma Frank

Personnel: Emma Frank (voice), Jim Black (drums), Martin Heslop (bass), Elias Stemeseder (piano), Simon Millerd (trumpet)

Emma Frank’s concert included songs from her new album, “Ocean Av” (released on February 16, 2018). Her songs are beautiful and feature intelligent lyrics.

The musicians on her new album include Emma Frank (vocals), Aaron Parks (piano), Jim Black (drums), Rick Rosato (bass) and Franky Rousseau (guitar).

The following is the video for “Ocean Av”:

Chet Doxas

Personnel: Chet Doxas (saxophone, electronics), Matthew Stevens (guitar), Rob Ritchie (guitar, synths), Zack Lober (bass, turntables), and Eric Doob (drums, electronics).

Chet Doxas and his band faithfully reproduced the music and energy from his 2018 Juno award nominated album, “Rich in Symbols” (inspired by the “No Wave” art movement of New York City’s Lower East Side between the years 1975-85). As the band performed each song, the corresponding piece of art was projected behind the band. The concert program with the corresponding pictures of the artwork can be found on Chet Doxas’ website: http://www.chetdoxas.com/pics-for-show/

Below is the video for “Starcrossings” from the album:

Jim Black Trio 

Personnel: Jim Black (drums), Thomas Morgan (bass), Elias Stemeseder (piano)

The Jim Black Trio’s concert featured music from their 2016 album “The Constant”. A review of the album from NPR’s Fresh Air can be found here:

Saturday, February 10

Fred Hersch

Personnel: Fred Hersch (piano)

Twelve time Grammy nominated pianist and composer, Fred Hersch, performed a solo piano concert, in support of his 2017 album “Open Book.” He didn’t disappoint the sold out audience.

Fred Hersch “Plainsong” from the album “Open Book”:

Taps and Traps: Heather Cornell and Jesse Stewart

Personnel: Heather Cornell (dance – sand, wood, tap), Jesse Stewart (drums, percussion)

This concert featuring Heather Cornell and Jesse Stewart was fascinating; as Heather Cornell demonstrated her tap dance mastery and Jesse Stewart played some of his unique instruments (including triple flute, waterphone, handpan).

The performance was at Studio B in La Nouvelle Scene, which is a black box theatre with a flat floor. The first row was the best place to view Heather Cornell’s footwork. The rest of the audience would not have been able to see and hear the performance as well as those in the first row.